Restrooms are available at the beginning of the trail at the West Visitor Contact Station and at the Chaparral Picnic area. While there is some shade along the trail, temperatures can rise into the 100s in the summer and fall, so make sure to bring plenty of water and sun protection on your run.
The trail is narrow, but free from rocks and roots that can make trail running complicated. If there has been rain, portions of the trail can be slippery, so mind your step if running in the winter or early mornings.
The Jawbone Trail is a narrow, dirt trail that descends from Prewett Point to the overflow Chaparral parking area on the west side of Pinnacles National Park. This is one of the newer trails in the park, opened in the spring of 2017, and provides access to the Jawbone and Chaparral parking areas from the West Visitor Contact Station.
To access the trail, park at the West Visitor Contact Station, and run out the Prewett Point Trail
for roughly a third of a mile. Here, a small sign marks where the Jawbone Trail begins dropping off to the right side of the trail. You'll notice immediately that the trail narrows and follows a singletrack around the side of the hill.
The trail descends steeply through the Chaparral environment common in Pinnacles National Park. Views of North Chalone Peak, the High Peaks
, and the Balconies Cliffs spread out before you as you make your way down the trail. As you descend, you'll notice Spanish moss hanging on the trees alongside the trail.
At roughly 0.8 miles, you cross a wooden footbridge, built with the help of the Pinnacles Partnership. During the winter, especially after rain storms, the West Fork Chalone Creek can be heard as you follow the trail. For roughly 0.2 miles, the creek is on your left hand side, until you cross another footbridge. The trail leaves the creek, but you can hear it if there has been rain recently.
At roughly 1.2 miles, the trail descends some steps and crosses 146 as it makes its way down to the Chaparral parking area. Once you cross the street, the trail follows the road to the Jawbone overflow parking lot. At the far end of the parking lot, a 0.3 mile connector trail links the Jawbone parking area with the Chaparral parking area.
From the parking lot, you can descend into the Chaparral area where you can take Juniper Canyon up to the High Peaks
, follow the Balconies Trail
out to the caves and cliffs, or take the North Wilderness Trail
deeper into the park. There is a restroom and picnic area in the Chaparral area, so take some time to enjoy the views, grab a bite to eat, and then decide where your adventure will take you. To get back to your vehicle at the West Visitor Contact Station, you either have to head back up the Jawbone trail, or try to catch a ride with someone back to your car.
Due to its location on the west side of the park and distance from the high peaks and caves, this trail isn't heavily traveled, allowing you to enjoy a peaceful run.